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You can now text Groot (go ahead, you know you want to)

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His conquest of pop culture nearly complete, Groot is now taking up residence in your phone.

TechCrunch reports that Twilio employee, and Guardians of the Galaxy fan, Ricky Robinett developed an SMS chatbot that enables you to carry on lengthy, if slightly repetitive, text conversations with the breakout star of the Marvel Studios film.

Need career or relationship advice? Groot is there for you with invaluable pearls of wisdom like “I am Groot” and “I am Groot.” In the mood for a joke? Well, have you heard the one that starts out “I am Groot …”? Just drop him a text at (866) 740-4531.

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Will ‘Disney Infinity’ introduce a new generation to comics?

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With its ambitious sandbox video game Disney Infinity, Disney has hit upon a way to generate sales — to the tune of $500 million worldwide — and to further promote a range of movie properties, ranging from The Pirates of the Caribbean to Frozen to The Incredibles (version 2.0 arrives next week, bringing the Avengers, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy into play). But could it also be quietly marketing comic books? Well, at least Marvel comic books?

Introduced in August 2013, Disney Infinity allows players to bring an assortment of characters into the game by purchasing $13 figurines and placing them on a special scanner, and to create their own world within the Disney universe using “Toy Box Mode.”

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Krispy Kreme rolls out ‘Ghostbusters’-themed doughnuts

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The Ghostbusters 30th-anniversary celebration is about to get delicious.

Krispy Kreme has partnered with Sony Pictures to introduce Ghostbusters and Stay Puft Marshmallow doughnuts, available Sept. 29-Oct. 31 at participating U.S. and Canadian locations. While supplies last, naturally.

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New service Comic Cartel thinks outside (and about) the box

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Mail-order comics services have been around for decades, but with the Internet they’ve grown by leaps and bounds. Still, when you put together the words “online” and “comics,” many people naturally think digital, but a new online mail-order business is putting print — and comics as a physical product — squarely into the limelight.

Launched earlier this summer, Comic Cartel has the standard offerings of other online mail-order services, with the ability to shop for individual issues and graphic novels, as well to create subscriptions. But what sets Comics Cartel apart is its attention to detail when it comes to comics as a physical object — one worthy of high care and exceptional packaging.

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With Marvel makeover, Captain Citrus has his day in the sun

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The Florida Department of Citrus today unveiled — at a comics store, no less — the $1 million Marvel makeover of its three-year-old mascot Captain Citrus.

Gone is the cartoonish anthropomorphized orange, replaced by muscular, Spandex-clad superhero who fights alongside the Avengers in a special comic created by writer Ralph Macchio, penciler Kevin Sharpe and a host of others. The aim is to market orange juice to children and teens. As The Associated Press reports, the U.S. demand for orange juice peaked in 1998 with annual per-capita consumption close to 6 gallons; now it’s about 3.5 gallons.

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Batman and Spider-Man team up for Times Square brawl

batman-spidermanWhen fans lobby for the return of the intercompany crossover, this probably isn’t what they have in mind.

CBS New York reports that Batman and Spider-Man were arrested Saturday night in Times Square after they allegedly teamed up to do battle with a shared nemesis: a heckler.

Police say the fight began at 44th Street and Broadway when 23-year-old Thomas Rorke of Breezy Point taunted the dynamic duo, who responded not with batarangs and spider-webbing but with fists. Rorke was reportedly struck numerous times, suffering injuries to his face. The costumed heroes claim they were hit as well.

In the end, NYPD arrested Rorke as well as Batman (aka 41-year-old Jose Martinez) and Spider-Man (aka 35-year-old Abdel Elkahezai). They were charged with misdemeanor assault and spent the night in jail.

Times Square has witnessed its share of costumed crime, mostly recently in late July, when a man dressed as Miles Morales was arrested in a scuffle with police. It’s become such a problem that the Times Square Alliance has called for regulation of the costumed characters, and New York City Council is considering a bill that would require licenses and background checks.

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MondoCon reveals exclusive prints by Mignola, O’Malley & more

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Sometime today, as is its habit, Mondo will announce the online pre-sale of four limited-edition posters, available exclusively to attendees of the inaugural MondoCon held this weekend in Austin.

The posters, featuring the art of Mike Mignola, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Daniel Danger and Rob Jones/Ken Taylor, will be screen-printed live at the convention by Industry Print Shop. That’s two on Saturday (Mignola and Jones/Taylor) and two on Sunday (O’Malley and Danger); only those with the corresponding MondoCon wristband will be permitted to pick up the posters for the day. There will be no refunds or cancellations, and no shipping from the show.

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Jeffrey Baldwin statue, with Superman emblem, is nearly finished

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The memorial statue of 5-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin wearing a Superman costume is nearly complete, and should be ready for a planned Oct. 18 unveiling, Heat Vision reports.

The story of the Toronto boy, who died in 2002 of starvation and septic shock after years of abuse by his grandparent guardians, received renewed attention in Canada last fall with a coroner’s inquest, during which Jeffrey’s father testified to his love of Superman. “He wanted to fly,” Richard Baldwin recalled. “He tried jumping off the chair. We had to make him stop. He dressed up [as Superman] for Halloween one year. He was so excited. I have that picture at home hanging on my wall. He was our little man of steel.”

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Comics A.M. | Longtime retailer Steve Koch passes away

Steve Koch

Steve Koch

Passings | Customers and family mourn the passing of Steve Koch, longtime owner of Comic Headquarters in St. Louis, who died Aug. 31 of a suspected heart attack. He was 55. “He knew the true value of a comic book was in the story and the art, not as it being a collectible,” said his wife Carla, whom he introduced to comics with a copy of X-Men #1. Koch’s customers praised him for running a store that was welcoming to everyone, no matter what their tastes; some have been shopping there since they were children. [Riverfront Times]

Crime | Police in Lexington, Kentucky, believe the man who robbed a local comics and hobby shop D20 Hobbies late last month is also behind three other robberies. In all cases, the robber wore a clown mask and indicated he had a weapon but didn’t show one. D20 owner James Risner was puzzled at first as to why anyone would rob a comic shop, but he speculates the thief didn’t realize his business had taken over from the previous tenant of the site, a Quick Cash store. “I guess he figured we had a lot of money,” Risner said. “Thankfully we didn’t have that much.” [Lex18.com]

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Photo of the Day | It’s the Groot pumpkin …

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A certified pop-culture phenomenon, Groot is seemingly everywhere these days: on the big and small screens, on toy shelves and on T-shirts and backpacks. And now he’s carved onto a pumpkin — one of what will undoubtedly be many by the time Halloween rolls around — at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch, no less.

The photo comes courtesy of Disney news site Stitch Kingdom, which also has shots of pumpkins featuring Han Solo in carbonite, Scar from The Lion King, the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland and more. Check them out on Instagram.

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Normalcy among the surrealism in ‘Opplopolis’

bcoversd_1(This post contains spoilers for Opplopolis Proceed at your own caution.)

This week, Kit Roebuck’s Opplopolis starts Issue 14 as the entire saga slowly but surely approaching its planned conclusion with Issue 20. It’s been a strange journey thus far, full of odd little left turns. There’s a moment, for example, that seems to be a visual homage to The Shining. Agnes, an artist, is invited to a high-class celebrity party where she’s already a bit out of place; she even needs her clothes ripped to shreds just so she can fit in. Thinking it a public service to the fashion-impaired, manufactured pop celebrity Vesper takes a pair of scissors to the artist’s dowdy outfit to create a new dress that shows a bit more skin.

Agnes decides to cut loose a little on the dance floor, but her way to the bathroom she encounters a slightly disturbing sight: When she peeks in an open door, she sees two men wearing animal masks while playing a card game. Eventually, a third person wearing an upside-down cat mask shuts the door in Agnes’ face (revealing a word that forms the comic’s central mystery).

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The Four is with ‘Sesame Street’s’ new ‘Star Wars’ parody

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During its first-ever appearance at Comic-Con International, Sesame Workshop teased a Star Wars send-up — one in a long, fantastic series of parodies that’s included Sons of Anarchy, Homeland, True Blood and Boardwalk Empire — and now that it’s here, it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Called “Star S’Mores,” the short sends Luke Piewalker — complete with pitch-perfect whine — Flan Solo and Chewie the Cookie on a mission to rescue Princess Parfaita, but only after they find a way to stop Flan Solo (played by Cookie Monster) from eating his co-pilot. The solution, Only One Cannoli suggests, is to use the Four. However, their other mentors have strategies of their own.

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In ‘Widdershins,’ bustin’ makes you feel good

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The female heroes of Kate Ashwin’s Widdershins share a lot of personality traits. Harriet “Harry” Barber, for example, is a cool, collected bounty hunter of the pre-Victorian era who’s often shown pondering a mystery while puffing smoke from her pipe. She’s also a bit of a loner; her face is frequently twisted in a tired scowl, and there’s a slight bags under her eyes. There’s a little bit of Rorschach in her, too, as interesting clues are greeted with a “hrm.” She’s definitely the smartest person in the room, but she’s also proud. Her reluctance to accept any help is driven, partially, by her need to prove that she and she alone solved the case.

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Get some great ‘Guardians’-themed art and help Bill Mantlo

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Ahead of the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, Multiversity Comics brought together Rocket Raccoon- and Groot-themed art from an assortment of creators, with selected pieces to be auctioned to benefit writer Bill Mantlo, who suffered irreversible brain damage in 1992 after being struck by a car. Now that auction has gone live on eBay.

There are more than 30 pieces up for bid from such creators as Rafael Albuquerque, J. Bone, Jenny Frison, Sina Grace, Rebekah Isaacs, Tradd Moore, Declan Shalvey, Greg Smallwood and C.P. Wilson III.

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‘Gotham Academy’ gets its own ‘almost official’ blog

gotham academy-teaser

DC Comics’ Batgirl, with its new costume, new direction and new creative team, has its own “(un)official blog,” and now so too does Gotham Academy. Launched over the weekend, Inside Gotham Academy — “the almost official blog” for the upcoming series — so far features promotional pieces, some covers and fan work, but it’s also teased that the series creators (Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl and Romain Gaschet) may post there.

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